Detroit Jazz Vocal Workshop

2013 Vocalist, Emma Aboukasm
2013 Vocalist, Emma Aboukasm

The Vocal Jazz Workshop is a part of the Summer Jazz Week, taking place inside the Summer Jazz Week, daily. Directed by April Arabian Tini with assistance from Ellie Martin, the VJW is available to vocalists of all backgrounds and experience levels. Vocalist's time will be split between the workshop and activities with the instrumentalists. These include: theory and composition class, improvisation clinics, and master-classes. 


Students will work on an individual tune (see requirements at the bottom) to be performed with piano, bass, and drums at a concert for family and friends at Cliff Bells.






 Elements that will be covered:



Jazz repertoire and styles


Vocal technique


Performance techniques


Basic improvisation


Crafting arrangements


Singing with a rhythm section


Developing your own sound



If you are a professional vocalist, the Summer Jazz Week is a chance to go back and cinch up your jazz theory and improvisation concepts. If you are a younger vocalist with little or no jazz experience, this a great, friendly spot to get your feet wet. College students will improve upon their knowledge and prepare for the next semester, as well as learn how to lead groups of backup musicians. This is also a great opportunity to network and expand your group of musician friends.



You can also play an instrument and take part in the vocal workshop. You would play your instrument in improv and composition class, and sing in the vocal workshop section. There might even be an opportunity to play your instrument in the vocal workshop. This will depend on the discretion of Ms. Tini, and the workshop.


An example of a lead sheet of a jazz standard
An example of a lead sheet of a jazz standard



It is necessary to come prepared with a tune and preferably two that you'd like to sing. Having an idea of your key and memorizing the lyrics would also be very helpful. If the song is not a standard, a lead sheet might be necessary to bring. This doesn't mean that you have to perform the song at our end of week performance, but this will at least give us someplace to start.


If you have no idea of a song(s) that you'd like to bring, please refer to a great website (link below) some of the most popular vocal-jazz standards; they all have audio clips to accompany them. If you are still unsure of what to do, please feel free to contact us at We give an email or phone consultation to help you prepare.


Please note that you should try not to stray too far from jazz repertoire. Cross-over tunes or R&B, Pop, Country, Gospel have great songs sung by great artists, but might not sound good in this context. Vocalists will be working with an acoustic jazz group. If you are unsure if the song fits the parameters of the workshop, please feel free to contact. A link to the song would be very helpful.